Fans gave them no hope, the bookies gave them no hope, but try telling the Parramatta Eels were no hope – as they defeated competition heavyweights the Melbourne Storm 16-10, to send out departing coach Stephen Kearney a winner.
Fittingly, it was the man who is the heart and soul of the Eels club, and has been for the past 12-13 years in Nathan Hindmarsh, that scored the Eels winning try.
Despite Kearney’s departure, he is of the belief that one day, he will return to the NRL coaching ranks.
“You will have to give me a week or two to do a bit of a bit of reflecting, but I am in a position now to walk out of here with a smile on my face,” Kearney said.
“I know that I have given it my all and tried my hardest. I can walk away with dignity. Could I have done things differently? No doubt.
“But I have the coach’s disease – and it is a disease. You always want to be a coach. The last couple of months has put a dent in it, but it is still an ambition.”
The only thing that soured the Eels win, was a Grade 1 medial ligament tear for Jarryd Hayne, as well as Willie Tonga leaving the field hobbling.
As the Eels sent Kearney out a winner, his opposite number in Craig Bellamy is disappointed to see his former assistant and good friend, leave the club in such a way.
“I probably shouldn’t say this, but if Parramatta showed that resolve tonight defensively all year, he might still have a job,” Bellamy said.
“I’m disappointed for what he’s gone through. He hasn’t murdered anyone. He hasn’t defrauded anyone. He hasn’t run away from an accident. But how he’s been treated this year, it’s been tough for him.”